From the start, we Irish have been pioneers in the prevention and treatment of coronavirus. While Big Pharma scrambled to produce a vaccine, Ireland brought one to the market very early, when we discovered, after extensive testing, that a meal costing €9 or more could act as a vaccine. While experts were still undecided about masks, the Irish knew a toasted sandwich held in front of the face in a pub could limit the spread of droplets and aerosols.
Last week, Ireland again led the world in thinking outside the box and reframing the whole coronavirus problem. It turns out that coronavirus, which has been mistakenly seen as a medical issue up to now, is in fact a road traffic problem. So the logical way to tackle it is to put up checkpoints. While no one was nabbed for coronavirus at these checkpoints, gardaí did say they caught a few people without tax or insurance. Boffins are now said to be studying whether Covid-19 may in fact be a parking issue, and whether the answer is parking fines. It's about not letting perfect be the enemy of good. We may not have enough ICU beds, but by God we're good at checkpoints, so let's try that.
The road traffic blitz came about as a result of the whole country moving to a kind of 'Level 3 Plus' last week. This enhanced form of Level 3 was 'Level 3 Plus We Actually Get People To Stick To The Rules'. It was a novel idea whereby instead of shutting down the whole economy because some people don't keep to the rules, we would actually keep the economy open and get people to keep to the rules. Of course research shows that everyone does keep to the rules, and indeed when surveyed, they claim to want even more rules, but then somehow, the HSE keeps telling us that people are getting Covid because they don't keep to the rules.
While traffic is apparently a major spreader of Covid, schools are not. While it has long seemed odd to many parents that while we're not allowed a social life, kids from 30 households can safely come together every day in school, we kept our traps shut. We all went along with the official story that schools are grand, because no one ever wants to homeschool again as long as we live. It seemed on Friday as if the jig might be up on that one, but omerta prevailed, and it seems mid-term break won't be extended to Christmas.
It's going to be a cranky winter. We're all feeling a bit cranky with people who break the rules, or at least with people who break the rules in a different way to how we break the rules ourselves. Leo gave voice to everyone's crank on Monday night. A third of people were cheering watching him, a third thought it was a bit nasty, and a further third didn't have any strong opinion, but just empathised with him feeling cranky. And then, true to form, we spent the week contact-tracing who knew what, when, last weekend, because that's what will prevent the spread of coronavirus.
If only we did our actual contact tracing with such gusto, we mightn't be in the position we're in.